Case Studies: Strengths and Weaknesses

One of the interactive techniques that have become popular in the UK, USA, Germany, Denmark and other countries is a case study, a method for analyzing situations developed by British scholars.

It is given an important place for solving contemporary learning problems in the world of practice.For the first time, the case-method was applied in 1910 in the presentation of managerial disciplines at the Harvard Business School, which is well-known for innovation, and in non-developed countries, this method began to spread only in the second half of the 90’s of the twentieth century, as cognitive acceleration in the process of studying natural sciences. The basis of the case method is the concept of the development of mental abilities.

Advantages of Case Studies

Case study method, like any other system, has its advantages and disadvantages. Let’s start with its advantages.

The essence of the method is the use of specific cases (situations, stories, texts which are called “case”) for joint analysis, discussion or decision made by students from a certain section of discipline training.The value of the case-method lies:

  • it simultaneously reflects not only a practical problem, but also actualizes a certain complex of knowledge that needs to be mastered in solving this problem,
  • it successfully combines educational, analytical and educational activities, which is definitely active and effective in realization of modern problems of the education system.
  • is not only educational but also has a great educational potential from the standpoint of the formation of personal qualities:
  1. development of hard work;
  2. development of creativity;
  3. formation of ability to compete;
  4. formation of readiness to assume responsibility for the results of their own analysis of the situation and for the work of the entire group;
  5. forming self-confidence;
  6. formation of the need for achievement;
  7. development of strong-willed qualities, purposefulness;
  8. forming skills in the group;
  9. formation of skills of communicative culture;
  10. the formation of a socially active and vital competent person capable of self-development, self-improvement, and self-realization.
  • does not require large material and time costs, and allows variability of training.

Disadvantages of Case Studies

The intensive study can be highlighted as when studying a new topic in the presentation of theoretical material and can be used to generalize and systematize the material. As an interactive learning method, the case-method is effective in using the study of economic, social and social sciences, language and literature and professional disciplines.

But it has some disadvantages as well:

  • Cases can be too self-sufficient. Students receive a complete set of information – everything you need to know about the situation in a structured way. In this case, they no longer need to conduct research or find out that the problem. This situation artificially blocks the search for additional information that they may need.
  • To contribute to the discussion, using the experience, students should already have this work experience.

    Therefore, in the course of programs, where there are no strict requirements for the previous work experience, the effect of the exchange of ideas is not fully achieved.

  • If students need to teach something really simple, the cases can take too much time.
  • The case method is not very suitable for areas where there may be unique correct answers.

Thus, it should be mentioned, that the use of a case study by the teacher, on the one hand, stimulates the individual activity of students, creates a positive motivation for learning, reduces “passive” and uncertain students, provides high efficiency training and development of future specialists, forms certain personal qualities and competence, and, on the other hand, gives the opportunity to the teacher himself/herself: to improve some skills, think differently and act or update teacher’s creative potential.